The cover: Finally, the Variants appear. The Main cover is by Stephen Segovia with Peter Steigerwald. This seems like a sketch. There’s a lot of dead space in the upper left, as if there was supposed to be text but it was never inserted. Telos looks above Deimos as he threatens the heroes. The wizard looks appropriately creepy, but the heroes are shown only from the back. The colors have a strong orange that creates a sense of impending dread. The first Variant is by Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, with Tomeu Morey. This is spectacular image of the Warlord and two of his supporting characters fighting an army of attackers. They’re entering a stone structure as flame erupts behind them. Outstanding image with spectacular coloring. This is one to seek out! The second Variant is by Francis Manapul, which showcases Kamandi and Aquaman, with the iconic Statue of Liberty enclosing them. Great layout, but the colors are too faded. I wish this had been brighter. The talented Billy Tan does the final Variant and I wish my store had this version. It’s a Green Lantern Sketch cover featuring images of Hal in black and white and a colored full character. Above him, gloriously sketched out is a spaceship that he’ll employ in future comics. This seems inspired by the variants put out by Dynamite’s Legenddery, and I’m all for them. Overall grades: Main C, Variant Daniel A+, Variant Manapul B-, and Variant Tan A+.
The story: Dick Grayson’s spine has been shattered. His broken body is coated in the living metal under the control of Telos, creation of Brainiac. When Grayson regains consciousness, he sees the construct holding the cowl of Thomas Wayne, Batman. He has killed this verison of the Dark Knight. Grayson is ready to meet his maker, but Telos says he is not there to kill him. He wants to see Dick battle in the Convergence; to see if he is strong enough to survive. Jeff King’s story then moves to new city Skartaris, home of the Warlord. Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, and Yolanda Montez have followed Deimos there to do battle with the Warlord. They don’t trust this wizard, but he did lead them to safety from Telos. They attack the castle, but are unaware that the hero Deimos seeks is not there. He is fighting a battle with another kind of foe. Within the castle, a character is trying to get help from a group of time traveling characters, whom she will release if they promise to fight on the Warlord’s side. Unfortunately, they are not a united group. There are conflicts among the heroes and villains, with the team of protagonists realizing they’ve been helping the wrong person, but this knowledge comes too late. Deimos’s ultimate plan is revealed on the final page, and things are appear to be going in a very cosmic direction. This was an okay installment. I was surprised to see Mike Grell’s famous fantasy/adventure character make an appearance, complete with his supporting cast. I also liked the addition of the time travelers, who are a group of characters I never get tired of seeing in DC’s books. I thought that Telos and Dick’s conversation was the low point of the book: it covers familiar ground from the previous three issues and didn’t do anything but promote other books. The reveal on the last page was good, and ended the book on a high note. I liked the majority of the story. Overall grade: B-
The art: A mixed bad of visuals continues with this issue. The penciller is Stephen Segovia, and the inkers are many: Mark Farmer, Julio Ferreira, Jonathan Glapion, Rob Hunter, Jason Paz, Mark Roslan, and Segovia himself. Some pages look better than others, but I’m still finding too many panels where shading is used to cover characters’ faces so that they don’t have to be fully illustrated. The opening sequence between Telos and Dick illustrates this: Page 2 has a lot of shading on the villain, making him look buck toothed again; Page 3’s first panel uses shading to cover half of Grayson’s face; the second panel uses slit lines for a face on Telos, and this process is used again for Dick in the bottom panel. In close-up, Segovia is tops: take a look at the third panel on page 4–it’s great. But, again, as Segovia pulls back, the face becomes obscured and returns to slits for facial structure. I just don’t understand why he’s doing this. Pages 12 and 13 have terrible faces. Things look better during the big fight scenes, which are often double-page spreads. Segovia knows how to set up a battle, and what he delivers is decent, but once the fighting stops, it’s back to poor faces. Having his many inkers on the book doesn’t help; some pages look better than others, and it leads to really inconsistent visuals. I wish DC had been better in identifying which inker was responsible for what, so that those deserving of praise could be named. The strongest page is the last one for the monstrous reveal. With this many highs and lows, the visuals just average out to average. Overall grade: C-
The colors: Aspen MLT’s John Starr with Peter Steigerwald do a great job with colors on this book. The background on the first page is a great use of color to instantly signify an alien setting through color and the vivid green skies reinforce this feeling in the scenes between Telos and Dick. The burnt orange skies of Skartaris are an instant signpost of a change of setting and light pink is a good color to show the relationship between Warlord and his companion. The last page’s violets were the perfect choice to draw focus on a magical soft blue. Starr and Steigerwald are punching up the artwork considerably. Overall grade: A
The letters: Narration and dialogue (the same font), scene settings, yells, one sound, the closing title, and book’s credits are done by Travis Lanham. They’re fine, but they’re fairly generic. Rather than have a different font for certain speakers, such as Telos or the Warlord’s green enemies, it’s the shape of the dialogue balloon and their colors that set them apart from others. He’s done excellent work before on other books, and I wish Lanham would have been unleashed to do more on this book. Overall grade: B-
The final line: I enjoyed the big group’s adventures, but was bored by Grayson’s scenes. Overall grade: B-